Not so Current

Pardon me for being unimpressed with’s new outpost on Yahoo. They’re still not getting the internet. Worse, they’re dissing the internet. And that’s troubling from a content, interactivity, or business perspective. But it’s also puzzling from a political perspective.

The network still does not share its best stuff — or what it thinks is best — with the internet because they’re still afraid of pissing off cable companies, which still aren’t picking up Current in volume. Note that other networks — ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox — are no longer scared of pissing off their channels of distribution. But Current’s business model is predicated on getting cable carriage. I still say they should have built the first big, funded, citizen-created internet TV network. But they didn’t. They could have used Yahoo to get attention for what they put on the “air.” But they didn’t.

The network also remains quite controlling. They create videos that try hard to look and sound just like bad 7 p.m. syndicated unnews shows. They have uninformative but still costly travel pieces sucking up to Dubai … and then teasing a story next week on the sad lives of prostitutes there; they haven’t found their place on the flullometer. Oh, yes, they show videos created by the people. But they put those videos through a process of selection, a gauntlet the citizens have to run — still — before they are heard. Since Current started, YouTube obsoleted that model; the people no longer need to guys with the cables and antennas to be heard. But Current doesn’t see that. Current could have made Yahoo an opportunity to create an open network of the videos of the people. But they didn’t.

What they did do is create a small and uncompelling collection of videos — a few made by them, a few made by others — about things like driving and flying. Why? Because there are ad dollars there (well, in the case of automotive, there aren’t as many ad dollars from automotive as they may have thought). Making money is fine. But when I saw a button called “action” on Yahoo’s Current, I thought it might be about taking action in the country and the goverment. No, it’s about going fast. Odd, considering how going fast on the ground or above does have an impact on global warming.

Al Gore, inventor of Current and the internet, has been dissing the latter lately. He respects broadcast to the masses more than conversation with the niches. That’s the old way to look at the world in both media and political terms. I’m surprised he hasn’t updated that view and started living it. He also has created venues that are closed, controlled at the center, not generous at the edges. That, too, is the old way of media and politics. So what does this say about Gore the politician these days? I’d say it makes him look out-of-date, not so current.

  • Ethan

    For Jeff Jarvis to evaluate whether Al Gore is “current” as a politician is simply beyond absurdity. Al Gore was right on one of the defining political debates of our time: namely, the War in Iraq. Jeff Jarvis was wrong. And since then, millions of Americans have come around to Gore’s position, while rejecting Jarvis’s, Jarvis still has the nerve to say Al isn’t “current.” Jarvis, meanwhile, doesn’t speak about the issue at all anymore–like a true moral coward, not only is he incapable of apologizing, he is incapable of discussion.

    For shame.

  • When it comes to Iraq, Jeff is just some guy with an opinion. When it comes to the Internet, he’s a little bit more qualified don’t you think?

  • Ethan


  • Why the surprise that Current is a centralized, controlling monolith? It’s the same Big Government/Big Business model Gore has pushed for his entire career.

  • Actually – the economics are the most interesting (and until this post unreported) part of this story. The decision to buy the cable network Newsworld International for a reported 70 million dollars generated an income stream of affilate fees. That was the story they told investors, and they made the decision not to be an open sources, from the ground up media company. To be fair, that may have not been possible in any case. Current is trying to be part of the new user-generated media movement – but Jeff right when he call out the net for being centralized, and setting rules for participation that are far from open-source. For me the wierdest thing is all the TV packaging (bumpers, hosts, graphics, etc) which are crazy-outt-of-place on Yahoo. It’s more like a promo for the cable net than a service… but maybe that will change… but at some point Current will have to bite the hand that feeds them and shift focus from cable to the web…

  • I heard Current is going to be carried on Compuserve next.

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  • Gabriel

    Some of Current’s content is extremely relevant! have you seent he piece on torture? A process called waterboarding was shown and it was dreadful! I know of no other palce that has shown such footage. Let alone taht it was the journalist who willingly underwent the procedure.

    Also the opinion pieces form actaul soldiers in Iraq are incredibly compelling. As are the videos made from the Gulf Coast community. I agree that the Yahoo model has not been completely successful but give it time. The network is new as is the partnership. Their should be sight channels on yahoo by the end of the year and with maeline Smithburg at the helm of the yahoo content I beleive we wills ee our share of political acountability she made poipular ont he Daily Show.